Native home gardens: Taming the wild things

By Jennifer E. Beaver Staff Writer A few weeks back, I wrote about my struggle to appreciate native landscapes. The column was inspired by our home’s inclusion in the Lawn-to-Garden Incentive Program (lblawntogarden.com) sponsored by the Long Beach Water Department, which will pay $2.50 per square foot to replace thirsty lawns with select drought-tolerant plants.…

Growing Up

By Jennifer E. Beaver Ever get something stuck in your head? In my case, it’s a lemon cucumber. It all started with the cuke photo in my latest book, “Edible Gardening for California” (shameless self promotion– let’s get it out of the way). It’s a cute cuke– oval, pale yellow with stripes, about three inches…

Can a drought-tolerant landscape be beautiful?

By Jennifer E. Beaver I have a conflicted relationship with drought-tolerant gardens. I understand the need to conserve water. But the garden-shaped space in my heart is full of thirsty English cottage flowers draped artfully over a bower. So when I got a letter from the Long Beach Water Department saying I was eligible for…

Tips I Bet You Haven’t Heard Before

By Jennifer E. Beaver True confession: I spend way too much time wandering the web reading gardening stuff. Sometimes I actually pick up useful information. I’m passing some practical tips on to you. Every spring, my geranium, petunia and Million Bell buds get neatly drilled right through the center, destroying all hope of flowers. This…

How to Shop a Plant Sale

By Jennifer E. Beaver Gardeners, position your wheelbarrows. The spring plant sale season is about to begin. Make a list, get there early, wear your fast shoes and tote a bottle of water. And don’t be shy about politely elbowing your way toward the object of your desire. Think I’m kidding? Show up on opening…

Growing Vegetables in Small Spaces

By Jennifer E. Beaver OK, no excuses. No matter where you live, you can grow fresh vegetables. Maybe not enough to continually refill the salad bowl at Soup Plantation, but enough to enjoy a sprinkle of tangy parsley or a few tasty, bud-popping tomatoes. Go for quality, not quantity. Container gardens deliver edibles to those…

Garden Variety: Chemical Dependency

By Jennifer E. Beaver Though it’s only February and technically more than a month till spring, fresh garden ideas are singing their siren songs. They trill from seed catalogs, beckoning you to grow some oddball lettuce. They waft hypnotically from nurseries and big-box stores and you suddenly find yourself contemplating some frilly six-pack or a…

Garden Trends for 2010

By Jennifer E. Beaver Last year, it became politically correct to be a gardener. For the first time since Eleanor Roosevelt planted a victory garden in 1943, the White House included a vegetable garden in its expansive grounds. It was a move that set the tone for the country. Community gardens sprang up across town…

Garden Variety: I’m dreaming of a potted Christmas

By Jennifer E. Beaver If ever there was a year for homemade presents from the garden, kitchen or craft table, this is it. My giftable plants go in pots this week, and the baking is underway. With peppermint chocolate bars and oatmeal scotchies lining the pantry and dozens of snickerdoodles, peanut blossoms and almond bars…

Garden Variety: A Book List for Gardeners

By Jennifer E. Beaver With Christmas right around the corner, you may be wondering what to give the gardener in your life. Choose the right book, and the lucky recipient will thank you all year long. Or grab one for yourself. The following reflect my personal preference for gardening books that have practical value. Many…

Garden Variety: Preserving Liquid Assets with a Rain Barrel

By Jennifer E. Beaver In November, my family crams a year’s worth of home repair and redecorating into a single month. Sure, we could spread the painting, grouting and picture-hanging around over the other 11 months, but where’s the challenge in that? With out-of-town relatives coming for Thanksgiving and friends dropping by throughout the holidays,…

Garden Variety: Fall– Time to go to pot

By Jennifer E. Beaver In mid-October, nature sends the signal: Time to swap the front-step pot of summer geraniums for something seasonal in shades of orange, yellow or brown. Those with no front steps wire festive Indian corn to the door. Those with no imagination–and this will surely earn a rebuke from the National Mum…

Making peace with fall in Southern California

By Jennifer E. Beaver Fall is planting season in southern California. Since I grew up on the opposite side of the country, I find this unsettling. Oh, sure, I understand that everything from sweet peas to broccoli flourishes in the still-warm California soil and thrives with winter rain. I appreciate the Mediterranean climate of my…

Garden Variety: Creating a Butterfly Garden

By Jennifer E. Beaver Like most of us, butterflies are attracted to our balmy year-round climate. And since this is, after all, Los Angeles, we get the quirkily named Sleepy Orange, Gray Hairstreak and Funeral Duskywing in addition to well-known favorites like Monarchs and Swallowtails, Why do we like them? These delicate beauties work as…

Garden Variety: Creating a hummingbird garden

By Jennifer E. Beaver Until I began research for this column, hummingbird gardens didn’t do much for me. I understand that many enjoy watching these tiny bundles of energy and want to help wildlife, but I personally didn’t want to put in the effort to attract them. And then I learned that hummingbirds eat twice…